Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Lately I’ve been learning or realizing things so quickly I am having an extremely hard time processing everything.  Sometimes I want to scream “slow down!” but there is a sense of urgency also.  One huge thing I’ve always been drawn to but am now understanding more deeply, is what constitutes genuine community.   My husband and I have always been drawn to this and had a long discussion about it today.  We’ve experienced it on some levels in the past, and greatly desire it in our future.  We visited a good friend today who lives in a community many would think less than desirable.  He lives in a tent but he has an amazing place to live on a beautiful creek in trees.  The other people there have much more connection to each other than the neighbors living on my street, partly because they need one another.  Most people in our culture have been led to believe they don’t need anyone’s help, or it’s shameful to even admit it.

We talked to our friend about our big dreams for people living together, helping each other.  Now people call them communes, or even cults.  In North America they used to just be called tribes, and it was a way of life that even some Europeans found more inviting than their own, so they joined up.  As I learn more about them, it strikes a familiar chord deep in my soul of what I have also always desired, and how I believe God created us to live in relation to one another.

I have recently made another friend who is terribly isolated – raising a small child nearly alone, and battling an autoimmune disorder.  Her husband works out of town a great deal and her own family who lives nearby, less than nurturing.  She doesn’t attend church because her experiences with Christians and their theologies have also been less than nurturing.  She lives in a brand new house on the good side of town – in poverty of a different kind.  She told me of her many failed attempts to find a play group for her daughter.  They all had some element of conformity she didn’t find herself to match into; too Texan, too granola (scowling at her Cheetos), too religious, or even too atheist.  Each one wanting community based on their own particular identity rather than just loving people as they are.  Sound like any place you’ve been?  Thankfully, she decided to start one of her own, of which I am a happy member.  It’s a small but amazing group of women who value simply BEING.. and being with their young children.  I guess that’s our one conformity.

I also know some amazing people who have brought in a beautiful girl off the street who was pregnant.  They already had an elderly parent living with them, and their own two teenage boys.  But now they will have a tribe also, with a baby and and elder to boot.  They are doing all this with an inspirational amount of joy and gratitude.

community-300x201An interesting paradox exists today.  In a recent documentary, Happy, the filmmakers identify elements that contribute to human happiness, drawing from cultures all over the world.   A sense of community ranked in the top five, along with other interesting characteristics not foreign to genuine expressions of Christianity.  While humans crave this, our culture has all but lost it.  Substitutes for real community, such as social networking, do attempt to fill a need – yet don’t require much in the way of the hard work that goes into living in close community.  We can turn it off – shut it out – hide the bits we don’t like.  We want togetherness, but we want it with people just like us.  We have made-to-order radio and video entertainment.  No one has to watch or hear anything they don’t like.  Not like the good old days listening to your top 40 radio station, waiting for your favorite song.  Or flipping through your six TV channels over and over and settling for re-runs of I Love Lucy.  No more.  You can now watch all the episodes on demand now if you want, commercial free.  But even the TV and radio of my day were the beginnings of social isolation.

We also don’t have to be around people we don’t like, even if we are married to them.  We want people on demand too.  Just the ones who don’t get on our nerves.  I am not judging anyone who is divorced.  I have been through that too.  But we have become a society that bails out instead of pushing through.  In a community, you learn to push through.  And some behaviors which tend to cause marriages to fail would probably be addressed in healthy, healing way.  Maybe.  Just a theory.  You can’t hide your junk when you live in close proximity to others.  If you hit your wife, it won’t be your little secret for long.

Even with all my idealistic dreams, I realized I wasn’t enduring too well in my own tribe.  We’ve had people live with us, and we’ve shared homes with others.  We bombed a couple times, had amazing success in others, but in none of those situations did we see it as a way of life.  We looked at it as something cool we get to do for awhile till we go back to normal life.  Normal, isolated, scrapping for survival one day at a time on the hamster wheel kind of life.  But now our family has grown and our living space stayed about the same.  I start to feel crowded, frustrated, wanting things to be my way.  I want the situation to go away, not work through to a solution.  My own selfishness has never been revealed more clearly.  As I told my husband today, there is a big difference in wanting the best for all the people in your life, or wanting them to arrange their lives to make your life easier and less stressful.  And I also realize I’ve left many situations myself because it was easier to walk away than honor a commitment to one another.

Well, after all this today, I ran across the most touching, beautiful video (by “accident”) about an intentional community started by a husband and wife.  They went where no one wanted to go, and are pouring out their lives as a living sacrifice.  It is showing in vivid color exactly the things I have been hearing deep down in my soul.  It’s only 10 minutes and I hope you take time to watch it.  I believe the time is now for these to be birthed everywhere, as living witnesses to the love of Christ.  There is no way to follow Christ alone.  He ordained that we should need and help one another, and learn to love as He loves.  We just need to build on a few rooms. 🙂


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